Common Herbs Used and Their Benefits by Mim Beim (Naturopath)

Author: Corina   Date Posted:7 March 2014 

Here at The Tea Centre we stock a number of herbal teas.  Below is a list of some herbs Mim Beim (Naturopath) loves and uses.  Mim has created the herbal teas you'll find in our Beaming with Health range.

Astragalus

Astragalus membranaceus - A traditional Chinese herb, Astragalus does its best work when boosting a vulnerable immune system, rather than treating a raging infection, where it is best to leave to other herbs such as Echinacea. The Chinese say that Astragalus strengthens Qi (deep energy), and who doesn’t need a touch-up in the Qi department from time to time? It will also improve vitality and reduce fatigue.

Bacopa

Bacopa monniera - Bacopa, also known as Brahmi, is an ancient herb in the Ayurvedic tradition. Bacopa improves and sustains concentration levels. It is also good for improving memory and the acquisition and retention of information. Bacopa helps regenerate nerves that have been damaged, making it a particularly good herb for recovering from a stroke. A study showed that Bacopa reversed memory loss in aged rats. Where did I leave my cheese? Bacopa is often combined with two other mind herbs - Ginkgo and Gotu kola.

Black cohosh

Cimicifuga racemosa and Actea racemosa - Black cohosh is a traditional Native American herb that helps all sorts of female hormonal imbalances. In particular it is useful for menopausal symptoms especially hot flushes and headaches. Often used in combination with soy, red clover and wild yam.

Burdock

Arctium lappa - Burdock leaves and roots are enjoyed as vegetables in Japan and Europe. Herbally, burdock root has been used for centuries as a detoxifier (or, to use a lovely old-fashioned term, ‘blood purifier’) to cleanse the body from within, with a particular affinity for the liver, our busiest detoxifying organ. In the tradition of herbal medicine, blood purifying herbs are used for skin problems including eczema, psoriasis and acne as well as for improving the function of liver, kidneys and bowel.

Calendula

Calendula officinalis - Calendula’s common name is Marigold, loved by gardeners for it’s chirpy yellow and orange flowers. Calendula petals have been used for centuries to heal wounds, cuts and scrapes. Calendula is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, ideal for sore throats, gum disease and ulcers. Add it to any blend where an antiseptic is required, calendula is also good externally.

Cardamom

Cardamom is likely to be familiar to you if you like Chai tea or Indian food and cooking. If you’re also familiar with the after-effects of Indian cuisine - for some, bloating, and flatulence - the good news is that it can help to ease these symptoms of poor digestion. In the Middle East, it has been used for centuries as a breath freshener and its sweetness is popular in herbal medicine to counteract the bitterness of some herbs. (Yes, we naturopaths and herbalists do our best, even though it may still taste awful compared to your favourite meal.)

Cat’s claw

Uncaria tomentosa, Uncaria guianensis - Cat’s claw has been in use in South America for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years (since the Incas, according to some sources) and is now gaining wider popularity in natural medicine, because of its beneficial effect on the immune system and joint pain. Cat’s claw has had some success in the management of immunodeficiency illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and in easing joint pain and inflammation in arthritis, osteoarthritis and other health conditions of the skeletal system. If you look at the thorns on the leaves you can see where the name comes from: they look just like a cat’s claw.

Celery seed

Apium graveolens - Celery’s long crunchy stems are not the only part of the plant that’s good for you. Celery seeds are coming into their own with research showing the benefit of celery seeds for arthritis, or osteoarthritis. This is one of the herbs that increases uric acid excretion and seems to help oxalic acid excretion, so sufferers of kidney stones (or renal calculi) and gout may also find this herb helpful.

Chamomile

Matricaria recutita - In Europe, Chamomile tea is commonly sipped as a digestive aid after meals. It soothes the stomach, and can be helpful for diarrhoea, nausea, reflux and abdominal cramps including period pain. Chamomile is as soothing to the mind as it is to the tummy, being mildly sedative. It was recommended in the 1600s to ‘comforte the braine’. If you are an anxious type, swapping coffee for chamomile tea is a good move.

Chilli

Capsicum annum - Chilli is one of those herbs that makes a splash. If it were a person, you’d definitely know when he or she had entered the room. Famous for its hot peppery flavour, the chilli even has its own heat measurement scale, the Scoville Heat Unit (invented by pharmacist William Scoville). The red-hot sensation you feel when biting into a chilli (Capsicum annum) releases endorphins, the brain’s happy hormones. Capsacin causes the heat, and is also responsible for many of chilli’s medicinal actions. Chillies are excellent for restoring poor circulation, clearing congestion of the lungs, nose and sinuses, and assisting in weight loss.

Cinnamon

Cinnamomum zeylanicum - The inner bark of a tropical Sri Lankan tree, cinnamon has a comforting aroma, reminiscent of apple pies. It is often used in baking and confectionery. Cinnamon is also a valued spice used by herbalists to improve digestive problems, particularly where there are spasms, such as colic or tummy cramps. Cinnamon is a warming tonic, wonderful for easing winter chills, and also or people who ‘feel the cold’. You only need a little cinnamon to enhance the flavour of your herbal tisane. Cinnamon is also an essential ingredient in chai.

Cleavers

Galium aparine - Cleavers is also known as clivers, goosegrass, stickyweed, stickybud, and sticky willy. All parts of this climbing plant are edible, but I wouldn’t try it: the sticky hairs on the leaves are sharp and the flavour is…well, let’s just say it tastes like it’s good for you. And it is. Cleavers is one of the lymphatic detox herbs and, like burdock, was an essential ingredient in the health tonics fashionable Europeans would take in the spring.

Comfrey

Symphytum officinale - Comfrey has a long history as medicine, vegetable and food for livestock. The name is derived from the Greek symphyo, to unite, which attests to comfrey’s renowned ability to heal broken bones and sprains. Since discoveries, in the mid-1980s, of adverse effects of certain alkaloids in the leaf, comfrey has been banned for internal use. However, it is widely available as a topical cream or poultice and its healing properties have made it a popular natural medicine for wounds, cuts, ulcers, broken bones and fractures. It’s also used in the cosmetics world, for its exfoliation properties. Comfrey is one of the easiest medicinal plants to cultivate if you want to grow your own.

Cornflowers

Centaurea cyanus - Blue cornflowers are beloved by British wildflower enthusiasts and herbalists alike. The attractive papery flowers, a rather intense blue, get their pigment from anthocyanidin, a bioflavonoid found in other plants too – it’s what gives grapes their purple colour and blueberries their bluey purple colour – and it’s an antioxidant.

Damiana

Turnera aphrodisiaca - Damiana’s botanical name gives a clue as to its traditional use. A native to Central America, there is evidence the Mayans took advantage of Damiana’s properties and European herbals claim Damiana as a tonic to the ‘sexual apparatus’! However, there is much more to recommend Damiana. It is useful for nervous disorders particularly mild depression and anxiety. It has also been used to ease bladder and kidney complaints.

Dandelion

Taraxacum officinale - The leaf of the dandelion makes a very good diuretic (increases urine flow) and delicious salad herb, while dandelion root has been favoured for centuries for its effect on improving liver function and sluggish bowels. Many people enjoy a cup of dandelion root tea as a substitute for coffee, perhaps because it has a black colour and tastes bitter..but it doesn’t have the kick of coffee as Dandelion does not contain caffeine.

Dill

Anethum graveolens - Dill has been used for centuries to treat indigestion, bad breath (halitosis) and colic, especially in babies. Both the seeds and the leaves can be used medicinally, in fresh or dried form, and it’s tasty in salads or with fish. Because dill has small flowers, easy for birds to suck nectar from, it is a fine herb to grow to attract them to your garden for natural, chemical-free pest control.

Dong quai

Angelica sinsensis - This mellow tasting herb (trust me I’m a naturopath) is one of the best and oldest ‘female tonic’ herbs. Dong quai is a herb that helps most ‘female’ ailments from PMS, to heavy and painful periods, and even menopause. Dong quai has soothing and calming properties, just the thing for maelstrom hormones.

Echinacea

Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea - The ‘E’ herb that nobody can pronounce, Echinacea is native of the prairies of America and was used by the Sioux, Comanche and Cheyenne for snake bites, sore throats and wounds. Echinacea is able to boost the body’s immune system thus allowing our body to fight acute infection as well as boosting immune response, something antibiotics are unable to do. Echinacea is effective against both bacterial and viral infections, whereas antibiotics are specific only for bacteria. By the way, it’s pronounced Ek-in-ay-sha.

Elderberries

Sambucas nigra - Elderberries are the part of the elder most often used medicinally but the flowers can be used as well, and both been for hundreds of years in the European herbal tradition, especially for pain relief, inflammation and as a diuretic. Elderberries contain flavonoids, which have antioxidant and immune-boosting properties.

Fennel

Foeniculum vulgare - Fennel can be used medicinally as a food, juice, tea, tincture or in capsules and ‘fennel water’ has long been used as a gentle antispasmodic for digestive problems such as wind, flatulence and bloating, and for colic in babies. Some studies have shown fennel is successful in reducing appetite and food cravings, making it helpful for those who wish to lose a few kilos, and it also kills that persistent sweet tooth - so it’s doubly helpful in this case. Not only that, but it’s a useful plant in the garden if you have pets (fleas despise fennel; dogs and cats despise fleas) and it tastes great in salads.

Garlic

Allium sativum - Garlic has several medicinal uses. It can help in prevention of coughs, colds and other infections and, being an antimicrobial, is effective against bacteria, fungi, intestinal parasites, worms and viruses and also to boost the immune system. What you might not know is that garlic has the ability to detoxify the body from heavy metal toxicity, including lead, mercury and cadmium.

Ginger

Zingiber officinale - Ginger is one of those wonderful plants that double as medicine and food. It is a tummy tonic par excellence. Good for nausea, diarrhoea, indigestion and cramping. If you are a cold fish, ginger is also a terrific circulation tonic. Recent studies have shown that in addition to its tummy powers, ginger helps lower cortisol in the body, which helps reduce stress and anxiety. Sipping on a ginger tea has never tasted better.

Ginkgo

Ginkgo biloba - Also known as the maidenhair tree, the Ginkgo tree has remained genetically identical for one hundred and fifty million years, and has a life span of one thousand years. No wonder it’s recommended for the effects of ageing. Gingko increases blood flow, particularly in those hard to get to places like the brain, fingers and toes. Studies show gingko improves memory, particularly in older folk. Ginkgo also has a place in helping with anxiety and depression as it increases soothing neurotransmitters.

Ginseng Korean

Panax ginseng - Panax is derived from the Greek word Panacea or ‘cure all’ and indeed this ugly hairy root has an impressive therapeutic repertoire. From infertility to protection against the harmful effects of radiation therapy, to increasing mental and physical endurance and performance. Panax ginseng is most helpful for low energy states and a less than stunning sex drive. The Chinese say Panax restores ‘yang’ energy, the energy of strength, stamina and virility. In part this is due to an increase in testosterone, the hormone that boosts libido and energy in both men and women.

Ginseng Siberian

Eleutherococcus senticosus - Not even a close rellie of Panax, Eleutherococcus was given the ‘ginseng’ tag because it has similar actions to Panax, or perhaps it’s easier to spell than Eleutherococcus. Siberian ginseng restores and strengthens the immune system while assisting the body to deal with stress. Emotionally it helps with mild depression. World class triathletes use Siberian ginseng in their training to improve endurance. Siberian ginseng helps the body defend against colds, flus and other infections. It is also good for helping recover from the effects of surgery, chemotherapy or any illness.

Gotu kola

Centella asiatica - Indian elephants love Gotu kola leaves, and everyone knows ‘elephants never forget’. Gotu kola has the marvellous combination of relaxing the body and stilling the mind, which is why for centuries it has helped Indian meditators to meditate. It is said Gotu kola strengthens the crown chakra, the energy centre at the top of the head, closest to heaven. Gotu kola is also used for arthritis, psoriasis, TB and even leprosy. Despite the similarity in name Gotu kola is not related to the kola nut, and does not contain caffeine.

Guaiacum

Guaiacum officinale - Guaiacum originated in South America and has long been used by Western herbalists in the treatment of arthritis. It’s an endangered herb and difficult to find, so sometimes replaced by Boswellia and turmeric, which have a similar anti-inflammatory action in treating rheumatic pain.

Hawthorn

Crataegus oxyacantha - Hawthorn is a traditional tonic for the heart. With heart disease one of the major causes of death, hawthorn has its work cut out for it. Hawthorn can be used for conditions including high blood pressure, angina, arrhythmia, high cholesterol and heart muscle weakness. A truly lovely herb if you are wanting to prevent heart disease, it’s also helpful as an adjunct to other medicine. As always, talk to your health practitioner if you are on medication.

Hibiscus (Rosella)

Hibiscus sabdariffa - Hibiscus is usually thrown in to herbal tea blends to impart a stunning rosy colour and fruity flavour. However, hibiscus offer more than these sensory delights. They contain high levels of antioxidants, and are helpful for inflammation of mucus membranes such as sore throats, gum disease and cystitis. It has recently been found to reduce high blood pressure.

Hops

Humulus lupulus - Yes, the very same hops that brew beer happen to be extremely effective as a sleeping brew. Apart from the very bitter taste, hops are terrific for soothing anxiety, and is one of the best herbal sleeping agents, particularly combined with Passionflower and Valerian. Hops also reduce nerve pain.

Horsetail

Equisetum arvense - Horsetail grows in Europe, where it earned popularity in herbal medicine for its diuretic action. It is used successfully to reduce swelling and fluid retention. Rich in the mineral, silica, Horsetail is excellent for improving brittle hair, nails and bones. Horsetail can be used for osteoporosis, kidney stones, urinary tract infections and as a topical cream, ointment or poultice for wounds.

Kava

Piper methysticum - Samoans don’t do stress. Perhaps it’s due to the Polynesian traditional beverage, Kava, first recorded by Captain James Cook in 1768 during his voyage to the South Seas. If you suffer from nerves, or know you are about to enter a high-stress time, sipping on kava can smooth out the edges. Kava works quickly, so it’s useful to sip if you know you have an anxious day ahead. Although it helps you sleep, Kava should not cause drowsiness. If you have ever tasted Kava you will be familiar with the tingly, numbing sensation. This is because Kava acts as local anaesthetic and analgesic, good for sore throats.

Lavender

Lavandula angustiflora_ - Lavender (formerly _Lavandula officinalis), also known as English lavender, is used in herbal medicine as a tincture, tea, essential oil, infused oil, or in capsules. Small amounts of essential oil can be applied externally for headaches, skin conditions or stress and anxiety. Lavender essential oil in an aromatherapy oil burner will help calm nerves (and it smells delicious). Lavender is easy to grow, and attractive, especially in mass plantings.

Lemon balm

Melissa officinalis - Lemon balm has the ability to ‘make the heart merry’, or so said the sixteenth-century botanist Paracelsus. A herb that improves the mood as well as restoring a sense of calm, it is difficult to resist. Lemon balm also has a mildly sedative action, but won’t affect daytime alertness, and has been shown to have a positive effect in those with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, reducing agitation and helping cognitive function.

Lemon myrtle

Backhousia citriodora - Lemon myrtle is as quintessentially Australian as the expressions ‘true blue’ or the greetings ‘g’day’ and ‘hooroo’. There’s nothing quite like brushing past a lemon myrtle tree on a bushwalk, pausing to inhale that heady scent of citrus emanating from the leaves. Used in tea, tincture for infections, as a cream, or in essential oil for skin infections and herpes lesions, lemon myrtle is a valuable first-aid remedy. It has a lemony flavour and goes well with echinacea, ginger or lemongrass, especially in tea. Delicious!

Lemongrass

Cymbogpogon citratus - A member of the Ayurvedic herbal repertoire, lemongrass is a favourite especially in food and herbal teas due to it’s delicious fresh citrusy aroma and lively taste. Lemongrass is excellent for the digestion, particularly bloating and flatulence. It is also helpful for headaches and good for nervous exhaustion. The fragrance is used in aromatherapy to improve mood. Citral, a naturally occurring substance in Lemon grass is particularly effective against the the common fungal infection, Candida albicans.

Licorice

Glycyrrhiza glabra - If you get your hands on a bit of licorice root, give it a suck. It’s incredibly sweet taste is due to Glycyrrhizin which is 150 times as sweet as sugar, but it actually helps stabilise blood sugar levels. Licorice not only tastes good it helps so many conditions, including; asthma, bronchitis, sore throat, ulcers, inflammatory bowel conditions and is a wonderful adrenal tonic, helping folk cope with stress. Long term use of high doses of licorice can lead to a depletion of potassium. This is unlikely drinking 2-3 cups of licorice tea daily, but check with your practitioner.

Meadowseet

Filipendula ulmaria - The name meadowsweet is derived from the word ‘mead’, an ancient alcoholic drink of fermented honey flavoured with different herbs such as meadowsweet. ‘Bridewort’ is another common name, dating back to Chaucer’s day, when its pretty white flowers were worn by a bride on her wedding day. After the vows, they were strewn on the banquet room floors - clearly newlyweds did not need the anti-inflammatory and antacid actions of meadowsweet. Meadowsweet is also useful for acidic tummy conditions including heartburn and even stomach ulcers.

Neem

Azadirachta indica - Neem is historically associated with the Indian herbal tradition, where it has been used for stomach upsets, skin ulcers, infections and malaria. It has also been used in treating and preventing gum disease: the twigs were used as toothbrushes and the leaves (in a gel) for cleaning the teeth and gums. Today, it’s used in the West principally in mosquito repellent and for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Topically Neem is used in lotions and potions for gleaming hair and strong nails.

Nettle

Urtica dioica - Prickly on the outside, nettles are only guarding their rich source of nutrients within, especially iron, chlorophyll, vitamin A and silica. Traditionally, nettles have been cooked up as food as well as medicine. Nettle is a general tonic for tired and debilitated states. Particularly appropriate for those with low iron levels, nettle is also great for women who suffer heavy periods. Possibly due to its high silica levels, nettles have long been used to improve the condition of hair, skin and nails.

Passionflower

Passiflora incarnata - Passionflower is the flower of the exotic passionfruit vine a native of central and South America. The passionflower was named in the 1500’s by Spanish conquistadors in Peru, who saw the flowers as symbolic of the passion of Christ, and therefore a sign of Christ’s approval of their efforts. I’m sure the locals felt differently. Passionflower has mild tranquillising properties, but will not make you drowsy. It is an excellent herb for insomnia, restlessness, anxiety, emotional and physical tension. Also for heart palpitations, high blood pressure and twitching muscles.

Peppermint

Mentha piperita - Part of the mint family, peppermint was used widely by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. As well as being a medicine, peppermint has a great taste and is a major player in the confectionery world. Peppermint tea is excellent for wind pains (colic) and flatulence, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, indigestion and reflux. Also good for snuffly colds as the menthol released in hot peppermint tea helps if you are clogged up. As it is the peppermint oil that is most potent, it’s best to use fresh peppermint leaves, or buy the freshest dried herb you can. Sipping cool peppermint tea helps relieve the hot flashes of menopause.

Quassia

Quassia undalata - Native to Jamaica and its neighbours, the Quassia tree has been used medicinally both internally and in topical treatments for lice or as an insecticide. The bark is the part most commonly used, in the form of chips. Quassia chips, strewn around the garden, are an effective deterrent for aphids, caterpillars and even possums.

Raspberry Leaf

Rubus idaeus - Raspberry Leaf tea sounds like it should taste yummy. It doesn’t. But that hasn’t stopped it being used for centuries for pregnant mums. Sipping Raspberry leaf tea helps relieve morning sickness, but it is later in the pregnancy that raspberry leaf comes into it’s own. Rasberry leaf is traditionally taken in the last trimester of pregnancy to ‘tonify’ the womb. In fact, it is thought to build up the strength of the myometrium (uterine muscle) which leads to an easier delivery. Two to three cups a day in the last trimester.

Red clover

Trifolium pratense - Phytoestrogens are this little legume’s claim to fame. As the name of the plant-based chemical suggests, it is helpful in treating low oestrogen-related conditions, such as menopause, and is sometimes used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Red clover is also used in the treatment of high cholesterol and in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Rhubarb

Rheum officinalis - Rhubarb root has been shown to have an effect on vascular illnesses such as diseased arteries (atherosclerosis) and, in recent clinical trials, is showing promising results for the treatment of angina and improving blood-flow in the arteries generally. Rhubarb root is also a gentle laxative. It’s also relatively easy to grow and, though the leaves are poisonous, the stalks are delicious stewed, on its own or with apple or pear, and served over yoghurt, polenta or porridge for a nourishing winter breakfast.

Rooibos

Aspalathus linearis - Rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) is a favourite beverage in South Africa, where it is known as Red Bush due to it’s beautiful orange red colour, and is a traditional medicine and beverage of the Khoi tribe. Drunk instead of water for hydration by South African athletes. Research has shown that Rooibos is very rich in polyphenol antioxidants. Early studies are promising, suggesting rooibos may be helpful against certain cancers, heart attack and stroke.

Rose petals

Rosa damascene - Pretty, angelic-smelling rose petals are used extensively in cosmetics and the essential oil is highly regarded by aromatherapists who believe the smell can heal a heavy heart and promote happiness. Rose has antiseptic properties, but is perhaps most useful in filling the senses with the beauty of nature.

Rosehips

Rosa canina - Rosehips are the fruit of the Dog Rose. Their ruby colour and pleasant mildly astringent taste makes rose hips a favourite in herbal tea blends. Rich in Vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Rosehip syrup is an oldfashioned cold remedy for children. Rosehip tea is good for preventing and treating sore throats and colds, also for tummy complaints especially diarrhoea.

Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis - A mediterranean herb with unforgettable fragrance, rosemary has a calming effect on digestion, helping bloating, flatulence. Also excellent for the circulation, helping relieve headaches and improve memory. Rosemary has a rich history often linked with rites of purification and warding off evil spirits. Always a mindful fragrance “There’s Rosemary that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember:” (Hamlet)

Saw Palmetto

Serenoa repens - Named after a palm that has fronds as sharp as a Saw. Saw Palmetto used to be known as ‘old man’s friend’ as it helps with symptoms affecting the prostate gland including increased urination, dripping after urination and inflammation and irritation. Although well known for it’s prostate reducing powers, Saw Palmetto may increase libido by increasing the amount of testosterone.

Senna

Cassia angustifolia - The pods of the Senna tree are used to treat constipation. Senna may be a little harsh on the bowel, and may cause griping pains. Best used with calming herbs to the tummy such as chamomile, peppermint and ginger.

Skullcap

Scutellaria lateriflora - Skullcap quietens and strengthens the nervous system. Good for restless sleep. Irritability, tension, nervous exhaustion, nervous twitches. Helping bring peace of mind. Like other mildly tranquillising herbs, skullcap will help you sleep better at night, but will not cause drowsiness if taken during the day.

Spearmint

Mentha spicata - Spearmint is a perennial herb from Central Europe and, like peppermint, has become a popular herb for tea. Spearmint tea (made from the leaves) has medicinal benefits for easing nausea or a troubled tummy and is also refreshing, with a pleasurable minty flavour. The leaves and flowers can also be added to salads.

St. John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum - Long before it became the celebrity herb for depression, St. John’s wort was used for all afflictions of the nervous system. Since the middle ages, herbalists have prescribed St. John’s wort for nervousness, anxiety, sleep problems as well as shingles (good externally as well), herpes and any spinal or nerve damage.

St. Mary’s Thistle

Silybum marianum - St. Mary’s Thistle is the ultimate herb for the liver. Research has shown that it can help to regenerate damaged liver tissue. It aso aids in the detoxification of alcohol and drugs. The active constituent, silymarin, has been found to have potent antioxidant properties. Recommened for many conditions including hepatitis (all forms), gallstones, high cholesterol, psoriasis, constipation and a ‘sluggish’ liver.

Star anise

Illicium verum - Chinese star anise, as the name suggests, tastes aniseed-ey (a bit like licorice) and is a popular ingredient in Asian dishes. Ayurvedic medicine makes good use of it, too. The part used is the fruit, which has been found to have a carminative effect on the body (meaning it can combat flatulence) and has been helpful in easing stomachache and colic. Plus, its star-like shape (reminiscent of a star fish) makes it an attractive addition a decorative box or bowl of spices for the kitchen. What more could you want in a medicinal herb?

Thyme

Thymus vulgaris - Not only a delicious culinary herb, thyme has been used herbally for hundreds of years,particularly in England. An antiseptic and astringent herb, is particularly effective for tonsillitis , laryngitis coughs, urinary tract infections and flatulence.

Valerian

Valeriana officinalis - Valerian is to sleep as roses are to love. Valerian is also a marvellous muscle relaxant, so it’s good for tension headaches and muscle cramps. In the writings of Galen and Dioscorides they called this herb ‘phu’ which describes it’s smell. Stinky it may be, but Valerian is excellent for sleep. It improves both sleep quality and length. Increases slow wave sleep, while not affecting REM. Valerian reduces anxiety, and is excellent for worries that keep you up at night.

Vitex

Vitex agnus-castus - You’ve got to love a herb that goes by the name Agnes. Vitex agnus-castus (also known as Chaste Tree) has been used for hundreds of years as a herb for ‘women’s problems’. It is equally good for PMS (tender breasts, headaches, premenstrual acne irritability etc) as it is for erratic menstrual cycle, ovarian cysts and menopause. It may also help infertility and reduced lactation. Vitex is also good for boys and men who suffer from hormonal acne. These huge painful pimples tend to congregate on the back, shoulders and chest, making social intercourse a trial for the shy. Hormonal changes take time, have patience.

Withania

Withania somnifera - Withania comes from the ancient Ayurvedic repertoire of herbs. The Sanscrit name ‘ashwagandha’ refers to Withania giving the sexual stamina of a stallion. While this might be too farmyard for some, it gives credence for this herb to be included in any libido formula. However, Withania’s is known primarily as a tonic used to boost the immune and adrenal systems. Interestingly, Withania is a herb that can both increase energy and induce a restful night’s sleep. (hence the somnifera in it’s botanical name).

Zizyphus

Zizyphus spinosa - Also known as sour chinese date seed, zizyphus is a Traditional Chinese herbal remedy. It is also known as jujube and chinese date seed, and eaten as such is quite delicious. Zizyphus is mildly sedative and is used to help ease anxiety and sleeplessness. It also helps relieve palpitations and excessive sweating. Zizyphus is good for relieving all sorts of symptoms of anxiety. Including insomnia, apprehension, nervous exhaustion, palpitations, clamminess, nerve excess, night sweats and hot spells, irritability.